Archive for October, 2009

Oct 20 2009

Profile Image of rbakerj

First art kits delivered by The Wounded Artist Project, Oct 5, 2009

Filed under News

First art kits delivered, Oct 5, 2009.  Ray Bakerjian made his first trip to Washington DC the first week of October 2009 to launch The Wounded Artist Project with visits to Walter Reed and Bethesda.  While there he also attended the Association of the US Army convention and got a chance to meet Congressman Gary Peters, his US Representative, on October 7.

Monday, Oct 5, 2009

First stop was to Walter Reed Medical Center to visit the Warrior Transition Brigade.  I got to sit with five recovering soldiers.  Using an easel and pad, I drew the human head and then a standing human using the simple circles and lines.  One soldier, a female medic, callsign “Styxx”, came up with some decent drawings in spite of having never drawn before.  I was drawing fast starting with a simple vertical line, then a skeleton, then putting meat on the bones, and then finally a uniform.  She didn’t try to clothe the figure but she really got the concept.  All of their work will go onto our website’s gallery page. 


 I took the pictures done by Styxx and her comrades to show people that I met at AUSA.

 One of the best contacts I made that day (and the trip) was with Fisher House (  After a brief intro about our org they said they would help us when and wherever we would needed it working with Fisher House and provide contacts and help gain entry into their network’s houses.   On Thursday, before I got on the freeway to drive back to Detroit I also stopped at the Fisher House at Walter Reed to introduce us and ask how we might work with them there. 


Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009

My first stop was Bethesda Hospital to drop off another 24 kits for wounded Marines.  I worked with 18 Marines in a day activities room. 

At the convention USA Cares made a suggestion that we create “Caregiver Kits” for relatives likes spouses or parents of the wounded.  These people are involved full-time with the recovery of their wounded and deal with a lot of stress due to this situation.  I know a Marine Lt. Col. who was wounded in Iraq and he mentioned to me that he and his dad would have used our kits while he was in recovery. 


Wednesday, Oct 7, 2009

I met with the Army Wounded Warrior (AW2) Program ( at the AUSA convention.  They suggested that we create a program that they could use internally with Army wounded.  We would have train-the-trainer classes showing how to use our art kits to their employees and other VA health professionals.   This was the high point of the trip and probably one of the most important things to happen for us.  My first thought is that it would be a one-day class that covers all of our kits, including Kid Kits and Caregiver Kits.  We might even try to get an Art Therapist to speak to the attendees.

Later on at the convention I stopped at Heckler & Koch, a German small arms manufacturer.  They said that they don’t typically give money, but products to raffle, like a pistol.  The irony is not lost on me..

The last booth I visited before they closed the show down for good was US Ordnance.  They would consider providing heavy machine guns and ammo for a charity shoot.  More and greater irony! 

Visit to Congressman Peters

About lunchtime on Wednesday I took the subway again this time to visit my Congressman, Mr. Gary Peters.  I had spoken to his staffers here in Michigan less than a week before and they offered up a chance to meet him in DC.  I got to his office in the Longworth Building on the south side of the US Capitol for a 1:15 appointment but he was running late because of voting.  We had to go to the Capitol.  I got a quick meeting with him and a pic for our files.  He said he thought we are doing a good thing helping vets.  I said it’s nice to meet one’s congressman without a subpoena being involved!  (I could imagine his staffers groaning and thinking, not the subpoena line again!)  I am 53, but I have to say it’s pretty cool to meet one’s elected official, one on one, in the US Capitol.  

 trip to dc oct 2009 019










Thursday, Oct 8, 2009

I got a listing of other Warrior Transition Units across the country from my contact at Walter Reed and will be contacting these people with a mass email asking how to interact with them and more importantly for some history as to the numbers of people they work with.  While I was there at the Warrior Transition Brigade a sergeant and his wife dropped by.  He is recovering from brain cancer and trying to reconnect mentally.  I gave him an art kit and he and his wife were very thankful and encouraged that it would help them both deal with his recovery.

 I also dropped by the Fisher House before driving back to Michigan.  They wanted to know when I could come back.

 As you can see there was a lot of activity just in that short three and a half days. 


Next trips, 2009

I am planning to travel back to DC in mid November.  I will be shipping kits in advance to Walter Reed’s Fisher House and introducing us to their residents.  I hope to meet with Warrior Transition Unit personnel from nearby facilities (Forts Meade, Lee and Eustis).  I will also ask to tour wards at Walter Reed and at Bethesda.  I would like to meet with AW2 to discuss future training.  I think this trip can be done in about three days.

I am also planning to get to the Brooke Army Burn Center in Texas before the year is out, maybe during the holidays.

No responses yet